PR, as defined on Wikipedia, is “the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization and the public”. I would go further to define it as reputation building. It’s about building and maintaining a reputation of a company/ organization, individuals, and products/ services. It should be part of your DNA.
Of course, you could just as easily leave this to a professional PR agency, and there are a few in the region that are trusted by your key editors. Ask them for recommendations. But if you want to go it alone, here are a few steps that could help.
Delivering on your promises
One of the few things most businesses do is create a mission and a vision goal. Great idea. Share it with the team to ensure that everyone not only understands what this (vision and mission goal) is; what it means and how everyone can deliver on that promise, no matter how small or big it is. Make sure to communicate – often, openly and honestly.
Setting up key rules for communications
Although PR is not just about media relations these days, with the advent of social media almost anyone is a spokesperson. But it’s better to have a couple of key spokespeople – who understand the key messages and know how to communicate these effectively, not just to the media but to all the stakeholders. Often this is the business owner(s) but it doesn’t have to be.
Building communications/ bridges
- Be approachable. Playing hard to get is not always the best policy. Make it easy for people to find you and to communicate with you.
- Answer your emails & social media. If you have an email contact form on your website, make sure you have someone answer or monitor it. The same with social media. What is the point of setting these up if you are not going to monitor or respond to messages on any of these platforms?
- Share contacts. If you get a request from an editor (or a blogger for that matter) that does not quite fit what you do, offer to help them with a contact you know. You will not only earn brownie points with the editor but also with your business associate, and they will remember you as a useful resource for future.
- Don’t over-react to rejection/ criticism from editors or on social media. Learning to take criticism constructively is an art that can earn you a reputation for being trustworthy and level-headed.
Playing devil’s advocate
If you have a story that YOU feel is a strong story, look at the story and ask yourself: if you were a reader and this was a story sent out by your competitor, would it really be that interesting? If not, why should the editor be? One quick trick is to open your favorite newspaper or online news portal and replace any of the stories with yours and see if it really fits.
At the end of the day, it takes patience and trust to build a reputation and that can take time. If you deliver consistently, then this is quicker than you realize.
This article was written by Mita Srinivasan, Director at Market Buzz International, a consultancy, providing strategic PR and communications support to existing small to medium enterprises operating in the Middle East with a focus on B2B businesses.